Story by Sara Kuefler
I sat down with Graham Mackenzie, director of Major Minor Music Project, to discuss East Town Get Down, a brand-new, independent music festival to be held on International Avenue on May 26. We were in lawn chairs in his front yard, with kids heading to the neighbour’s place to play, surrounded by pink people who occupy Mackenzie’s yard — leftover sculptures from an art installation by a Vietnamese artist, which had been shown on International Avenue, and were subsequently rescued by Mackenzie after they were no longer needed.
A couple of board members from Major Minor happened by during our chat, said hello, and touched base on some organizational details. The atmosphere during our interview really brought home the fact that the East Town Get Down is a community gathering, meant to create a friendly, inclusive atmosphere and promote culture in the East Calgary, Forest Lawn area.
Being the inaugural year of this festival, Mackenzie has gathered an impressively large lineup of artists — over 60 bands, in fact, and almost all Calgarian. The eight venues —seven of which are all ages — include a Latin-American Restaurant, two Ethiopian restaurants, a bowling alley and a collaborative workspace for makers who need a workshop. These “DIY” venues, as Mackenzie calls them, are diverse and representative of some of the local flavour on International Avenue. The event itself is a collaboration between local talent, local business, the Major Minor Music Project and the International Avenue BRZ.
When asked how the venues were chosen, Mackenzie explained that a couple of them were venues Major Minor has worked with in the past, and the others were chosen out of a radius of a few blocks, to keep the event contained in an area that would allow patrons to walk from venue to venue to see different performances. The bands were also mostly past collaborators with Major Minor, and cover a wide variety of musical styles.
“We have every genre of music . . . maybe not jazz or I don’t think we have any country, but we will, we will. If everything goes well, we will have everything. We will have everyone back and even more — that is the goal,” Mackenzie states, touching on the aim to make this an annual event with room to grow.
It was also important for Mackenzie to keep the wristbands affordable. The point of this event is accessibility for all to local arts and culture, so the wristbands are a reasonable $30 after May 1. That is a lot of bang for your buck when you are talking about the number of bands involved.
So, hop on to the website and pick up a wristband to check out what the East Town Get Down has to offer. It is sure to be an exciting evening full of excellent music, warm heartedness, and beautiful diversity.